In our farming methods we try our best to replicate the old-fashioned and time tested, semi-primitive, nature-based farming methods that our ancestors used. We believe livestock should be raised outside, on grass rather than packed in a building. We believe in the revolutionary idea that chickens should behave like chickens! Many of these old-fashioned methods merely replicated aspects of nature, which is exactly what we try to do.
For example, in nature birds are usually the cleanup crew from large herbivores and carnivores. The herbivores chow down on plants and expose all the bugs, or the carnivores leave scraps, which are easy pickings for birds. As such we try to give our chickens plenty of space to roam and forage as a bird would in the wild. Our chickens also have access to an omnivorous diet, just as they would have access to in the wild. Our birds are free to eat some chicken feed from a dispenser and then walk twenty feet and chow down on a grasshopper or spider or any other critter they can chase down.
We are also big fans of trying to reduce waste where possible and within reason. You may have noticed that nothing goes to waste in nature and everything is eventually returned into the soil. We seek to emulate that. As such our excess food scraps are either fed to chickens if possible, or composted into rich soil for our garden. The entrails from our birds on processing day go back into the soil to decompose and provide needed nutrients for plants. We don’t use herbicide on our plants around the farm, instead we use natural ways to kill plants such as covering them with a tarp to block sunlight, or simply cut them with a pair of loppers.
We also implement parts of Permaculture on our farm, which is simply a nature-based, multi-use methodology that is great for solving problems. One such example is water for our chickens. We used to have to carry 5 gallon buckets filled with water out to the birds. After thinking for a while about nature-based solutions, we built a rain-catching system next to the coop that allows us to collect much of the needed drinking water for our birds.